The fifth annual International Maritime Film Festival, announcing winning films, will be held online this year. The festival will run from Friday, Sept. 18, through Sunday, Sept. 27, with live Q&As with filmmakers scheduled throughout. Festival information can be found at maritimefilmfestival.com. Festival passes are $10. The films can be accessed at any time throughout festival dates and a final schedule of Q&As will be announced soon.
The Grand Prize Feature Film is “We, the Voyagers” (Anahola, Hawaii), directed by Marianne “Mimi” George, Heuionalani Wyeth, and Jacob Penchansky. The living crew of Lata, the Polynesian culture hero who built the first voyaging canoe and navigated across the Pacific, tells the story of ancient designs, materials and methods as a means to reconnect with ancestors and sustainable life ways. “We, the Voyagers” tells of an isolated Polynesian community living the story of their ancestor, Lata. To make a voyage, Lata needs crew. He welcomes men, women and children, hard workers with skills and applicants of dubious character, including a sailing anthropologist. The community learns to sail the open ocean in Lata’s arms, interacting with wind, waves, stars and other signs that their ancestors show them when they are needed. When they arrive at their destination, we learn what happened to family members since their last voyage generations earlier. It is a story of reconciliation, love for community and a collective looking forward toward a future together. The film has a run time of two hours 12 minutes. Learn more at vaka.org.
The Runner-up Feature Film is “EASTLAND: The Wreck That Shook America” (Evanston, Illinois), directed by Harvey Moshman. In the summer of 1915, thousands of Chicago factory workers, recent immigrants from Europe, boarded the SS Eastland, headed for a long-anticipated day of merriment on a nearby island on the Chicago River. 844 people died that day in a matter of minutes as the ship rolled over on its side. “EASTLAND: The Shipwreck the Shook America” reveals how immigrants in America were victimized by rich and powerful men who exploited the legal system to get away with manslaughter. EASTLAND includes stories of heroism and heartache, with rare newsreel footage that city leaders banned from Chicago theaters in 1915. It has a run time of 54 minutes.
The Grand Prize Short Film is “Gáax’w Ka Haaw: Herring Eggs & Branches” (Sitka, Alaska), directed by Tessa Schmidt. Since time immemorial, the people of Southeast Alaska have harvested herring eggs by placing hemlock branches in herring spawn. This vital, traditional food is endangered by commercial fishing pressure. This film serves as both a vignette of the 2019 spring harvest efforts and a portrayal of the tension the Indigenous people of Sitka, Alaska, and beyond are feeling as their traditional food faces an uncertain future. It has a run time of 35:53.
The Runner-Up Short Film is “Endure the Suck” (Miami, Florida), directed by Isaac Mead-Long. “Endure the Suck” tells the heartwarming story about two disabled military veterans, Danny and Frances, who go out sailing together in Biscayne Bay off the coast of Miami, Florida. The film focuses on the journey and struggles that Danny and Frances have gone through to overcome their disabilities and how they met each other through a local charity, Team Paradise Sailing. From tragedy to success, “Endure the Suck” tells an incredibly uplifting story through the eyes of Danny, Frances and their sailing coach, Magnus Liljedahl, an Olympic gold medalist in sailing from the 2000 Sydney. Learn more at facebook.com/EndureTheSuckMovie. It has a run time of 15:39.
An Honorable Mention is awarded to “Gando” (Islamic Republic of Iran), directed by Teymour Ghaderi. Due to water scarcity in Sistan and Baluchestan provinces of Iran, young girls must venture far from their villages to fetch water and to wash clothes. In most of these bodies of water lies a danger: a type of Iranian crocodile called Gando. Gando attacks humans and is the main cause for maiming and dismemberment among young children. Most people believe that Gando are to be revered: where there are crocodiles there is water. This documentary film tells the story of a 9-year-old girl named Hawa who lost a hand to a Gando. It has a run time of 7:56.
The International Maritime Film Festival is a project of Main Street Bucksport and World Ocean Observatory.